Belsize Park gain revenge over arch-rivals Hackney to go top of the table

Belsize Park's Mark Liebling scored a classy individual try against Hackney. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Belsize Park's Mark Liebling scored a classy individual try against Hackney. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Belsize Park moved to the summit of the league table with a convincing home win over last season’s arch-rivals Hackney, triumphing 39-25 in London North-West Division Three.

Belsize captain Tom House (pictured winning the ball at the line-out) was also on the scoresheet for

Belsize captain Tom House (pictured winning the ball at the line-out) was also on the scoresheet for his side. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hackney beat Belsize Park to the Herts/Middlesex title last season thanks to an 18-match unbeaten run, but they were no match for BP at the Hub in Regent’s Park on Saturday.

Despite a strong start, Belsize Park found themselves 7-3 down after 30 minutes, before Seb Dunnett took advantage of some strong build-up play to put the hosts 10-7 in front.

The pressure was further capitalised on when Mark Liebling – back in the side following an injury – showed his pace to beat five defenders from his own 22 and stretch Park’s lead to 18-7.

On the back foot, Hackney began to impose themselves upon the game and, following some sustained pressure, the visitors brought the game back to 17-13 at the break.

Following an early penalty conversion from the in-form Rob Hooper at the restart, Hackney again showed their quality and clinical style after scoring their second try of the game to narrow the score to 20-18.

However, this seemed to give Belsize the shock they needed as they scored three tries without reply. First Will Allen showed his strength and pace to score under the posts, and George Hazlett then crossed the whitewash to cap another man of the match performance.

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The final try by club captain House sealed the win, but it was overshadowed by a nasty injury sustained by new flanker Gus Lockhart, who appeared to damage his knee whilst smashing through the Hackney line.

The visitors touched down a consolation try and, despite securing an impressive victory, captain House is still eyeing improvements ahead of this weekend’s trip to Stevenage.

“It was a 90 per cent performance,” he said. “Obviously our priority was revenge but we still conceded too many points and our defence was slow to realign at times.

“But we are working on this and I expect an improvement next weekend. We picked up a few knocks but the second d and third teams won their games again at the weekend, so there is no shortage of talent to draw from.”

Elsewhere in the division, repeated ill discipline cost UCS dearly as they slipped to a disappointing 25-15 defeat against Grasshoppers.

It was ill discipline that handed Grasshoppers the advantage and put UCS on the back foot from the start, when Grasshoppers took a quick tap from a penalty and a couple of phases later crashed over in the corner for a converted score.

Rory Gibson kicked a penalty to reduce the gap to four points, but UCS struggled to capitalise on this and remained behind at the break.

After the restart Grasshoppers again took advantage of further UCS ill discipline at the back, as they stretched their advantage with a penalty

UCS narrowed the deficit to two points though and the comeback appeared to be on when left-winger Jean Paul Laurent was put into space on the touchline from a tap penalty to score in the corner.

But once again the Old Boys’ discipline let them down after they conceded a penalty, before conceding yet another penalty from the kick-off.

Dave Myers ran in for their second try of the game to take the score to 18-8 and Damir Jovanovich gave the Old Boys some more cause for optimism when he crashed over from close range, but any hopes of a recovery was dashed as Grasshoppers scored again with three minutes left and converted to secure the game.